Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) no longer is an enigma in our society. Unfortunately, more and more people have it in some form or another as many in the health care industry are accepting it as a concrete diagnosis. What is it? MCS is defined as a multi-system disorder usually brought on by toxic exposure to a chemical or chemicals. The exposure can be acute, i.e. a large amount of a toxin over a short period (hours to days) or it can be long-term, a low-level exposure over a period of weeks, months or years.
An example of an acute exposure is a chemical spill and an example of a long-term exposure is a person living in a house that has been tented to kill termites and gets progressively sick.
MCS over the long haul depletes an individual’s nutritional stores and causes problems in many different systems and organs in the body. Hence the term multi-system disorder. The person becomes sensitized to the particular chemical. With repeated exposure, the sensitivity increases.
Also, there is what is called a spreading effect where the individual is bothered by many more different chemicals. As this happens, more body systems become involved. MCS almost always effects the Central Nervous System.
According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) the diagnosis, treatment, and etiologic assessment of MCS had remained a troublesome medical and social concern for individuals, physicians, government and organizations. Also, according to the ACOEM, the condition was first described in 1952 and has since amassed over 20 different names, including “environmental illness”, “total allergy syndrome”, “20th Century disease” and “Chemical Aids”. My personal favorite is 20th Century disease.
In my mind, this name is totally appropriate since our society’s quest to preserve everything from food to building materials has created this mess.
ACEOM recognizes that there is a lack of scientific research about MCS. However, they support tentative conclusions about MCS. These conclusions are: 1) that there is no immunologic basis for MCS. 2) that there is an overlap between MCS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other historic non-specific condition.